INTERVIEW: Senreve CEO Coral Chung on the brand's cult-like following

·Contributor
·5-min read
(PHOTO: Senreve)
(PHOTO: Senreve)

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SINGAPORE – If you’ve been shopping in Takashimaya Shopping Centre lately, you may have noticed a beautiful coral and sage green display in a store, featuring a range of elegantly practical handbags. Yes, the cult-favourite bag brand Senreve from San Francisco can finally be seen and handled in all its glory right here in Singapore.

This direct-to-consumer online-only brand was founded in 2016 by Coral Chung - hence the lovely coral colours - as a way to “disrupt old-school luxury design”. Ms Chung, who is an entrepreneur, former strategy consultant and tech executive, wanted to create a bag that was not only beautiful but also combined functionality and versatility, and that offered a useful tool to enable “today’s modern women to live their busy, everyday lives – no compromise necessary”.

Senreve bags have gained their cult-like following because not only did Ms Chung succeed in her aim, the bags are also made from leather that is stain-, scratch-, and water-resistant; created by European craftspeople who have worked in the luxury bag industry for over 50 years. So you get not only fabulous style and superb functionality, but also top-level quality as well.

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Senreve CEO Coral Chung. (PHOTO: Senreve)
Senreve CEO Coral Chung. (PHOTO: Senreve)

“I was inspired by my own experience of never being able to find the perfect handbag that was luxurious and beautiful, but also allowed me to stay organised, carry a laptop, was highly versatile and durable,” explains Ms Chung about the reasons behind the launch of Senreve.

“I also felt inspired by women around the world who were taking on more and more roles and responsibilities; their careers, motherhood, family, community, philanthropy and more. Traditional brands and products were not keeping up with how quickly these lives of women were evolving."

“At the same time, luxury was slow to adapt to the digital revolution. So there was an opportunity to create a digitally native brand that’s reimagined for the next generation of luxury shoppers.”

Creating a luxury handbag brand from scratch isn’t an easy task, particularly as a female entrepreneur, founder and CEO. Like many women in business, Ms Chung says that she has continued to experience various levels of sexism in the business world.

“Unfortunately, there is still a lot of sexism in the industry, and if you look at all the major fashion and luxury brands around the world, the vast majority of senior leaders are still men. It’s challenging to break in as a newcomer who doesn’t fit into the stereotypical ‘CEO’ mould of having a square jaw, broad shoulders, low voice, etc. Many people questioned my qualifications, experience and doubted my ability to launch and grow Senreve into the company that it is today,” Ms Chung explains.

(PHOTO: Senreve)
(PHOTO: Senreve)

“I have been lucky to have a lot of mentors, advisors, and supporters throughout my career. I think it is critical to form a community around yourself that can help during the challenging times.”

However, these issues did not greatly impact the brand’s performance, despite - or because - Ms Chung is not a traditional ‘CEO’. For example, unlike many luxury fashion and accessories brands, particularly those whose market is mainly working women, Senreve managed to surf through the pandemic’s troubled waters thanks to a nimble company structure, says Ms Chung.

“We were able to grow through the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a remarkable testament to the resilience of our brand and products as well as the creativity and flexibility of our team,” Ms Chung explains.

“Early on, we had a lot of challenges with receiving products since our partners in Italy were fully shut down for over two months. There were also a lot of shipping and logistical challenges that caused delays. Our strategy had to be very nimble; we focused a lot on regions in the world that were managing COVID-19 better, like Singapore and Hong Kong."

"We also have to thank our amazing community for being so supportive, understanding, and patient with us during this time.”

Moving into the Singapore and Southeast Asian markets was a good move for the brand. “We have had a strong product-market fit with the Southeast Asia markets, especially Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines,” says Ms Chung. “The Singapore brick and mortar store is definitely a big investment for us. We’re excited to do more in the coming months in other markets as well, including some initiatives via local partnerships.”

(PHOTO: Senreve)
(PHOTO: Senreve)

And as for whether or not Senreve has produced the perfect handbag, you will need to try it for yourself, but Ms Chung has three things that every handbag should be able to do:

1. Transition well from day to night and occasion to occasion. For example, I have worn my Aria Belt Bag casually on a hike or to the supermarket, but have also worn it with a gold chain to match my gown at the opening of the ballet!

2. Fit all your essentials and keep you organised. Senreve bags are known for distinctive interiors with lots of pockets and a place to put everything (including a clip for keys!), so you never have to scramble around the bag looking for your items.

3. It’s important for a handbag to help you feel confident and secure. I love that the Maestra has a full zipper, convertible straps, and feet at the bottom!

Senreve is offering virtual and in-person appointments. Virtual appointments are eligible for all in-store offers and promotions (including gifts with purchase). Customers who spend over US$600 through a virtual appointment before 4pm will receive complimentary same-day shipping to their home, provided the purchased items are available in store. Every other virtual appointment order will be shipped within five to seven business days. In-store appointments are highly recommended for priority entry over walk-ins -who may be required to wait in line.

Get your hands on your own Senreve bag at popup shop: Shop #B1-41, Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Road, Singapore 238872. The store will be there until November 10, 2021.

For details and to book an appointment go to: www.senreve.com/pages/sg-taka-popup

You can also shop online, with shipping to Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

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